An Oz study has said that the psychostimulant drug Ritalin could help people who commit mistakes habitually.
A single dose of the drug makes people far more aware of their omissions and commissions, opening the way for self-correction, which is the key to success in the long run.
The study, led by psychologist Rob Hester and colleagues at Melbourne University's Queensland Brain Institute, found that a single dose of Ritalin (methylphenidate) perks up the brain's error monitoring network and improves volunteers' awareness of mistakes.
The drug works by increasing the activity of the central nervous system and produces such effects as increasing or maintaining alertness, combating fatigue, and improving attention.
Diminished awareness of performance errors limits the extent to which humans correct their behaviour and has been linked to loss of insight in a number of clinical syndromes, including Alzheimer's Disease, schizophrenia and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Critically, researchers showed that a single dose of methylphenidate, which works by increasing the levels of catecholamines in the brain, dramatically improved error awareness in healthy adults, according to a Melbourne statement.
Hester said failure to recognise errors was related to poor insight into a person's clinical condition, which can impair treatment. "For example, in conditions such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer's Disease, poor error awareness has been associated with delusions, paranoia and has been the cause of considerable distress to patients," he said.
"Failing to recognise your own error at the time can account for the difference between your recollection and the reality that confronts you," said Hester.
"Understanding the brain mechanisms that underlie how we become conscious of our mistakes is an important first step in improving error awareness, and potentially reducing these symptoms," concluded Hester.